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May 6, 2014

More On Plan To Close Field Offices

     The Baltimore Sun is running an article on the plan, if it can be called that, to substitute online services for Social Security's field offices. If this happens, and I strongly doubt it will, it will destroy the Social Security Administration's ability to handle disability claims and Supplemental Security Income claims. This is being presented as if it were simply a labor-management issue, as if the only thing at stake was the jobs of union members. I'm not part of any union. I wish the field office employees well but that's not my concern here. My concern is service to the public. My strong opinion is that any attempt to implement this scheme will result in chaos.

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  • 11 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Your concern is accessibility of SSA to the public which increases your bottom line.

    Period.

    8:48 AM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The NCSSMA has an interesting rebuttal to "the Vision". What NAPA is calling for just isnt realistic.

    10:27 AM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The claim that aligning the needs for and staffing of field offices with the reality of the technology of today and tomorrow "will destroy the Social Security Administration's ability to handle disability claims and Supplemental Security Income claims" is fear mongering at a very high level. Destroy is a very hard word and one used especially by those wanting to protect their own limited self interests vs. a true concern for service to the public. The ability of the public to handle more and more of their claims, appeals, and post eligibility issues online at any time and any day of the week is a marked improvement in service. This should result in fewer offices and reductions in staff and management. Computer systems improvements have enabled faster actions to process workloads, more convenience to the public, greater accuracy and timeliness, and more certain control and identification of workloads. Greater chaos existed for SSA offices (for employees and the public)in the past with lines outside an office prior to opening, overflowing reception areas, manipulations of the appointment system, lost mail and claims files, etc.

    1:41 PM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The last comment pointed out some of the chaos that happens when resources are diverted away from front line public service. Although online access is great and must be expanded much more quickly than it has been, it is not a replacement for helping the public in the community they live in. For example, many SSI recipients are severely disabled and poor with somewhat limited ability to take care of their business online. One of the reasons the public supports social security programs is because of the positive influence of our community presence, something that is rather unique for the federal government. We are involved in local homeless coalitions, retirement seminars, employer education, veteran outreach and so many other things that go way beyond the waiting room. The field office structure has always been viewed as one of the strengths the agency, and it would be a shame to see it go because of inadequate funding or a more centralized headquarters approach to public service.

    6:26 PM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Return SSI back to the states. SSI is not an SSA matter. That resolves that issue.

    6:45 PM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Re: the first comment... I'm always fascinated at people who seem to think that a lawyer should work for free, or that making a living and being genuinely concerned with the welfare of your clients are somehow in conflict.

    Im at SSA, and while I haven't formed any particular opinion about this issue, I am also 'concerned with the accessability of SSA to the public' because that's at the core of our mission.

    9:43 AM, May 07, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I never said a lawyer should work for free. Please.

    I merely said that his viewpoints are fueled by his bank account. We can argue if that matters or not, but I think dressing it up as some sort of philanthropic kindness is nonsense.

    10:19 AM, May 07, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm a lawyer and I agree with Anonymous 10:19 am. I represent claimant's because it is my JOB and I get paid for doing it. As a professional, I'm dedicated to obtaining a good result for my client...which also means a good result for me. I don't have any shame about that and I have no need to dress it up as some type of philanthropic endeavor.

    By the same token, I don't like the sometimes self-righteous attitude of some at SSA regarding lawyers. Employees of SSA work there because it is a good job (by today's standards) and not because they have dedicated their lives to helping the disabled. Their union's stance on this is fueled by self-interest, pure and simple. Union members can't understand how this proposal may actually help claimants by providing better service.

    Upton Sinclair said it best: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

    3:36 PM, May 07, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The current FO structure is a waste of money and staffing in a lot of areas. While I don't agree with Witold's usual sky-is-falling vitriol, his defense of the need for face to face service has merit. But there are too many underutilized outposts that need to go away. Like it or not, by 2025 SSA will be primarily concerned with SSI recipients in in-person dealings with the agency. And you can't justify the number of offices we currently have with that kind of a drop.

    8:08 PM, May 07, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    @3:36 pm. Exactly. SSA is one of the biggest jobs creators in the country, and its employees -from the top down - are driven first and foremost by self-interest.

    7:53 PM, May 08, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Over 50% of retirement and disability applications are already online, and it's been no more chaotic than usual.

    I wonder how much of the union's resistance to technology and more flexible jobs is generational. If you look at the Council 220 leadership, it's pretty obvious that they're not getting carded for beer purchases, if you know what I mean.

    Us younger employees might welcome the chance to try new things. I like what I've heard of the Vision 2025. Our customers don't want to have to come to the field office if they don't have to, and while they may need help, it doesn't have to be in-person if we can provide that help online. And let's face it, this might be a great opportunity to simplify the rules and policies that make our work so difficult in the first plce.

    8:20 AM, May 09, 2014  

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